How to Cut Onions for Grilling: Step By Step Guide

How to Cut Onions for Grilling: Step By Step Guide (with Video)

Onions are a staple for many recipes, and grilling is not exempt. The idea of cutting onions for grilling might seem a bit intimidating at first, but once you understand the basics, it's pretty simple.

To cut onions for grilling, choose large onions with dry skin, and peel them. Use a sharp chef knife to remove the stem end and cut the onion half lengthwise. Place the one half on a cutting board and cut the onion lengthwise again to make onion quarters for grilling.

Let’s check out the details below.


The key to a successful cut is to pick the right onion and the best knife. Below is a detailed breakdown of the types of onions that work for grilling and which knives will help you cut them evenly.

What kind of onion do you need?

What kind of onions do you need for grilling?

Most people prefer red onions for grilling. They are sharper and spicier than yellow and white onions, and they hold their taste better on the grill. While you can use any onion, red onions will provide the best results.

Red onions are also rich in antioxidants such as quercetin that protect the body from cancer and heart disease. It also boosts the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties.

The size of the onion matters too. Large onions make the best cuts for grilling because they are easier to handle. Use medium-sized onions if you want smaller pieces.

The essence of this method is to cut onion slices, so they don't fall through the grate. Large pieces will hold together better and provide an excellent presentation on the plate.

Choosing the right onion involves more than just looking for the right color. Confirm that the onions have dry and papery skins. It should be firm and heavy with no soft spots.

Avoid onions that have sprouted green stalks inside or any that feel slimy. Pick onions stored in a cool, dry place. Peeled onions refrigerated for longer than 14 days will be spongy and dry. If you keep them in the fridge, use them within one week.

The knife you will need

The ideal knife for cutting onions is a sharp chef's knife with a blade about eight inches long and made of high carbon stainless steel. The length is critical because you must cut through the onion from top to bottom.

A longer blade makes it easier to use a chopping motion than a slicing one when you cut through the onion. The material of this knife is important too because carbon stainless steel can retain a sharp edge longer than other metals.

How to cut quartered onions for grilling

Quartered onion presented on the table

Quartered onions provide the best presentation for grilling. They are large enough to hold together and have enough surface area for good caramelization. Below is a step by step guide on how to cut quartered onions for grilling.

Step 1. Peel the skin

Removing the papery skin from onions

Start by removing the dry papery skin from the onion. To remove the skin, slightly cut the onion through the first layer of the onion. Gently pull back the skin and continue until you remove the entire skin.

Step 2. Cut off the onion's stem end

Step 2. Cut off the onion's stem end

Cut the onion's stem end off to create a flat base. Leave the root end intact to hold the onion layers together while you cut.

Step 3. Halve and quarter the onion

Step 3. Halve and quarter the onion

Cut the onion half lengthwise, from top to bottom. Place the two halves on the cutting board and cut them in half again to make quarters.

How to cut onions in slices for grilling

Onion slices are another common cut for grilling. They are thicker than the slivers you would use for French onion soup or an onion dip.

Below is a step by step guide to cutting the onion into slices for grilling:

  1. Peel the whole onion: Peel the entire onion by removing all the dry papery skin. Cut the stem and root ends off the onion.
  2. Cut the onion into round slices: Cut the onion into round slices by placing the onion flat side down on a cutting board. Measure about 1/4 inch from the bottom end and cut straight down. Continue cutting 1/4 inch slices and discard the rougher end pieces.

How to cut onion chunks for grilling

Another way to cut onions for grilling is to make large chunks. This method is a good choice if you plan to use the onion as a condiment, such as a garnish for a platter of grilled meats.

Below is a step by step guide on how to cut onion chunks for grilling:

  1. Peel off the onion: Peel the onion by removing all the dry papery skin. Place the onion flat side down on a cutting board and cut off both ends.
  2. Cut the onion into halves: Slice the onion in half from top to bottom.
  3. Cut the halves into chunks: Place the half onion with the cut side down on a cutting board and make horizontal cuts about 1/4 inch apart into the onion. Proceed to make a single vertical cut at the center of the onion slice to create the chunks.
  4. Repeat the process for the remaining half onion to make the next batch.

How to grill an onion

grilled onion quarters on white background

Grilling an onion is an easy process that enhances the onion's natural sweetness. Peel and cut the onion to your desired size before grilling.

Follow the steps below to grill an onion:

  1. Make two trays using aluminum foil and place one on top of the other to create a double thickness. Seal the turned edge to form a tray. Create two double thickness trays for your onions.
  2. Distribute the onions on the trays, half on each tray, and evenly distribute them to spread out in a single layer.
  3. Add a tablespoon of margarine and evenly distribute it to cover the entire tray. You can also add some salt and pepper to give your onion rings that extra flavor.
  4. Place the tray on a preheated grill and allow the onions to cook for about 40 minutes. Ensure the heat is medium-high to prevent the onions from burning.
  5. Turn the onions after every ten minutes to allow even cooking. Use tongs to carefully turn the onions but be careful not to puncture the aluminum foil or tear the onion layers.
  6. Allow the onions to cook until they turn golden brown and tender. Remove the foil from the grill when the onions are brown and tender.
  7. Transfer the onions to a serving platter and enjoy your perfectly grilled onions fresh from the grill as a side dish or as a delicious addition to your favorite recipe.

During the process, you can use some steak seasoning for added flavor. You can also add some honey to give your onion rings that extra sweetness.

FAQs on onion grilling

What onion is best for grilling?

The best onion for grilling is the red onion, but the yellow and white onions also do very well. Red onions contain more flavor and are high in antioxidants. They also have anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties.

How do you grill onions without falling apart?

The best way to grill onions without falling apart is to use wooden skewers. They don't fall apart or lose their shape during the grilling process. Cook low and slow while basting with your favorite sauce to get the most flavorful results.

How do you cut an onion for grilling?

The best way to cut an onion for grilling is to cut the onion in half and remove the skin. Cut the onion into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Remember that bigger pieces are easier to handle and will not fall apart on the grill.

Are grilled onions good for you?

Grilled onions are rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C, which boost the immune system and prevent colds. Onions decrease cancer risk, promote healthy eyesight, and reduce cholesterol levels.


Understanding how to cut onions for grilling is a vital cooking skill to have. Grilling enhances onions' natural sweetness and gives them a rich flavor that pairs well with other foods on the grill. Use a sharp chef's knife to cut large onion pieces to create a better grilling experience.

Visit our store for high-quality chef knives to enhance your everyday cooking experience.
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